Ken Schmier is the man who came up with the concept of the Fast Pass. He’s also the mind behind NextBus. Strange, right? But also, not. This happened around 35 years ago, to the best of our knowledge. The first passes went on sale sometime in 1976.
A few weeks back they painted the Powell/Montgomery/Embarcadero BART stations. Great, right? Well, in the process, they changed the signs. Not that they were so great to begin with, but the ones they replaced them with had me convinced that these were temporary ones until they were able to hang some fantastic new signs that would match the new paint scheme.
I can be naive.
So now it’s a couple months later and we still have these signs, and let me say: First off, is that sign laser-printed onto a sheet of copier paper? I think it is. Secondly – and I don’t expect BART to have a designated typography designer on staff or anything – but exactly who printed this thing off and thought, yeah, people will be able to read that from across the platform; no, wait, maybe I better squish it a little more and re-print them. Finally – and I’ve seen this happen multiple times now – since these signs are posted at a height that is below the height of a BART train, when there’s a train in the platform, the signs are completely obscured; so what happens is there will be either some tourists on board the arriving train with me, or someone who was sleeping and just woke up, and the person will jump up when the doors open, in a panic, and look to see what station they’re at – no luck.
Stuff like this makes me sad. It makes me sad because sometimes I like to entertain the notion that San Francisco is a special place where the people who live here and the people in charge of stuff actually give a damn, that they’re proud. This blog is based on that innocent premise. But other times, I’m reminded that, to a large degree, it’s just not the case, that we are one big earthquake away from Louisiana status. Not that useful signs in the BART platforms would change anything, mind you, make us any safer in a disaster. But, c’mon, can’t SOMEONE who works at BART pretend that they care about the little stuff (although, tell the tourists who end up crossing under the Bay only to have to find their way right back that this is a little thing)?
One Mr. Robert Reid has posted a brief article and video on the Lonely Planet website comparing “USA’s great two cities.”
I’ve never lived in NYC, so I can’t weigh in on this definitively (I’ll leave it to broke-ass stuart), although I’ve done my share of visiting and have always had a great time there. (Also, I’m afraid to say anything bad because NYC will probably overhear me, jump out of an alleyway, and punch me in the face.)
But that won’t stop me from making snarky comments about Reid’s San Francisco analysis. He makes it a little too easy with this summary of his video:
I identified four key ways that the scale of goodness tips to the West Bay, including better coffee, airport transfers and subway maps — plus a far healthier connection to preserving the past.
In the video, he mentions BART’s “cute map.” Man, really? I hope he’s being sarcastic here, but I fear he’s serious. BART can afford to have a cute map because it’s such a sorry excuse for a subway that it hardly even requires one. This empty praise serves only to make BART feel better about itself than it should, prolonging any kind of meaningful improvement. So, thanks LP.
He says “Mission burritos” are “much better” because they have “more foil.” I’m not sure what he’s comparing these to, because, do people eat burritos in NYC? I’m sure they do, but I’ve never heard a New Yorker try to claim theirs are better.
In the end, Reid does what a writer for a travel site predictably must do when comparing two major destination cities: hedges. While spending all his time talking about “positive” SF stuff, his final words are, “but is San Francisco BETTER than New York City? No.”
Maybe I’m not the only one intimidated by NYC’s tough-guy status.
My favorite bit from this scan of an original flyer in support of Proposition “A”: “All statements in this leaflet are accurate and factual.” That reassuring disclaimer apparently made this passage adequately persuasive:
Who endorsed Proposition “A”? Taxpayer’s groups… labor… doctors, lawyers, merchants, housewives, educators, Republicans, Democrats – everybody who wants a prosperous Bay Area. Opposition? Scattered, local, self-interested.
That’s right, the original plans recommended “first stage” service past Palo Alto to the south, and across the Bay to San Rafael to the north! I wonder how many stages ago that was?
Maybe they should have drafted up some counterfeit money with which to pay for this pipe dream. (Even a tiny fraction of this fantastical scheme is itself worth much higher fares year after year, it seems.)